MCTC has become the fourth training center in the state to adopt the
A handful of inmates are selected to train services dogs for about a year. They are then given to a veteran in need.
"It’s about the pup and where he's going to go. To a disabled veteran," said inmate and service dog trainer William Austin, who is also a veteran. “Me being a veteran, I feel so wonderful of giving back"
Inmates at this prison received three
"[Junior is] with me 24 hours a day,” said inmate and service dog trainer Charles Hursey. “He sleeps in my cell, I bathe him, I take care of him, I feed him."
That 24-hour attention within the institutionalized environment is why the program boasts an 85 percent graduation rate for service dogs. That is about 25 percent higher than the success rate of puppies trained elsewhere.
"Service dogs usually take six months to train. Prison pups will come into our kennel, and they were training up in half the time: three months," said Sheila O’Brien, adding that the prison program helps veterans who usually have to wait four years to get a service dog through other programs. "Our veterans are in need. We have over 50,000 that have returned from
Inmates also say the dogs have changed their lives.
"They’re so energetic,” said
"I’m giving back to the veterans and the community to show that I can change and I can help someone,” said Hursey.
The trainers at MCTC also donated about $400 of their own money to the VetDogs program.
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